17, September 2016

Ministry of water resources sign MOU with ministry of agriculture for speed implementation of Namami Gange Programme

Source: PIB

Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD&GR) signed an MoU with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) for speedy implementation of Namami Gange programme.

Significance:

  • Signing of this MoU will ensure effective and efficient implementation of various projects of Namami Gange in coordination with MoA&FW.
  • MoA&FW will develop   organic  farming  in  the  villages  along  Ganga  with  each  Gram Panchayat representing a single cluster, promote organic farming through awareness programmes, self-help groups, mobile apps etc.
  • The Ministry will also create awareness about balanced use of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides promote micro irrigation for water conservation in Ganga Basin and will encourage livelihood opportunities and natural farming, based on animal husbandry, along Ganga.
  • The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation shall ensure necessary coordination, and support from the state governments and state level implementing agencies for various activities to be undertaken by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare as part of Namami Gange programme.
  • The MoU will remain in effect for a period of three years and thereafter can be extended as mutually agreed between the parties.

In order to improve implementation, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of:

  • High level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level.
  • State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level.
  • District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.

NASA’s Cassini to make final, closest observations of Saturn

Source: Indian Express

After studying Saturn, its rings and moons for more than 12 years, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage during which it will make the closest-ever observations of the planet.

Beginning on November 30, Cassini’s orbit will send the spacecraft just past the outer edge of the main rings. These orbits, a series of 20, are called the F-ring orbits.

A close flyby of Saturn’s giant moon Titan will reshape the spacecraft’s orbit so that it passes through the gap between Saturn and the rings, an unexplored space only about 2,400 kilometers wide.

During the Grand Finale, Cassini will make the closest-ever observations of Saturn, mapping the planet’s magnetic and gravity fields with exquisite precision and returning ultra-close views of the atmosphere.

Objectives of the Mission:

  • To gain new insights into Saturn’s interior structure, the precise length of a Saturn day, and the total mass of the rings, which may finally help settle the question of their age.
  • Determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus’s leading hemisphere.
  • Measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the magnetosphere.
  • The spacecraft will also directly analyze dust-sized particles in the main rings and sample the outer reaches of Saturn’s atmosphere, both first-time measurements for the mission.
  • Study the dynamic behavior of Saturn’s atmosphere at cloud level.
  • Study the time variability of Titan’s clouds and hazes.
  • Characterize Titan’s surface on a regional scale.

MFIs see higher growth in urban India than rural: Report

Source: The Hindu

According to an annual report by Sa-Dhan- the Bharat Microfinance Report 2016, the self-regulatory body for MFIs, microfinance institutions (MFIs) have seen their business grow faster in urban India than in rural in last one year.

Major Findings of the Report:

  • The report finds that these loans are being put to increasingly productive uses with a higher proportion of them going towards income generation than before.
  • The report also found that 94 per cent of the loans disbursed in 2015-16 were used for income-generating purposes, up from 80 per cent in the previous year.
  • Within the income-generating loans, the report found that the largest proportion—39 per cent—went to the animal husbandry sector, followed by 29 per cent to the trading & small business category.
  • Agriculture received 15 per cent of the loans, according to the report.

‘Centre against imposition of Hindi’

Source: The Hindu

Minister of State (Home) said the government was against imposing Hindi on other regional languages like Tamil, Kannada or Telugu, and the Centre will continue to promote Hindi as it was the official language as envisaged in the Constitution.

He also said that promotion of regional languages was the responsibility of the respective States.

‘Hindi is official language’

Minister of State (Home) said that Hindi and English have become the link languages for official correspondence.

The proposal still Pending:

To include English along with 37 other regional languages like Bhojpuri, Chhattisgarhi, Khasi and Bundelkhandi in the VIII Schedule of the Constitution, granting it an official status, has been pending with the Centre for 12 years now.

Background:

It was on September 14, 1949, that the drafting committee of the Constitution had agreed to accept Hindi as the official language of India and from then on the day is celebrated as ‘Hindi Divas’ across all Central ministries, departments and offices.

Procedural requirement for inclusion of languages in the Eighth Schedule:

A Committee was set up in September, 2003 under the Chairmanship of Shri Sitakant Mohapatra to evolve a set of objective criteria for inclusion of more languages in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. The Committee submitted its report in 2004.

  • The report of the Committee is under consideration in consultation with the concerned Minorities/Departments of the Central Government.
  • However, no time frame is fixed for consideration of the demands for inclusion of more languages in Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

Constitutional provisions relating to Eighth Schedule:

The Constitutional provisions relating to the Eighth Schedule occur in articles 344(1) and 351 of the Constitution.

  • Article 344(1) provides for the constitution of a Commission by the President on expiration of five years from the commencement of the Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of ten years from such commencement, which shall consist of a Chairman and such other members representing the different languages specified in the Eighth Schedule to make recommendations to the President for the progressive use of Hindi for official purposes of the Union.
  • Article 351 of the Constitution provides that it shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily, on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.

The Eighth Schedule was mainly intended to promote the progressing use of Hindi and for the enrichment and promotion of that language.

Genes store memory of heart attack: study

Source: The Hindu

The memory of a heart attack can be stored in genes through chemical modifications of DNA, scientists have found, suggesting that both environmental and heredity factors influence risk of cardiovascular disease.

Researches at Uppsala University in Sweden suggest that both heredity and environmental factors influence our risk of cardiovascular disease.

What did the researches find from their study?

  • We inherit our genes from our parents at birth. During our lifetime, chemical modifications of DNA that turn off or on our genes, so-called epigenetic changes, occur.
  • These changes can lead to the development of various diseases.
  • During a heart attack the body signals by activating certain genes, this mechanism protects the tissue during the acute phase of the disease, and restores the body after the heart attack.

The results of the study showed that there are many epigenetic changes in individuals who had experienced a heart attack. Several of these changes are in genes that are linked to cardiovascular disease.

However, it was not possible to determine whether these differences had contributed to the development of the disease, or if they live on as a memory of gene activation associated with the heart attack.

Hubble captures best view ever of a comet breaking apart

Source: The Hindu

Using NASA’s Hubble space telescope, astronomers have captured the sharpest, most detailed observations of a comet breaking apart 108 million kilometers from Earth.

What was found?

The images suggest that the roughly 4.5-billion-year-old comet, named 332P/Ikeya-Murakami, or comet 332P, may be spinning so fast that material is ejected from its surface.

The resulting debris is now scattered along a 4,828-km-long trail, said the study published online in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

These observations provide insight into the volatile behavior of comets as they approach the sun and begin to vaporize, unleashing powerful forces.

Announce higher MSP for pulses, speed up procurement: CEA panel

Source: The Hindu

Boost pulse output and check prices, the Chief Economic Advisor-led panel today asked the government to immediately announce higher MSP of gram (chana) to Rs 4,000 a quintal for rabi 2016 and Rs 6,000 a quintal for both urad and tur for kharif season 2017.

Report:

The report titled ‘Incentivising Pulses Production Through Minimum Support Price (MSP). The panel was set up in the wake of a recent surge in retail prices of pulses. It called for a review of the way MSP is set by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

“It is the strong view of this report that enhancing domestic productivity and production of pulses rapidly and sustainably is the only reliable way of minimising volatility in pulse market and safeguarding interests of farmers and consumers.

The report also reommended that the government should procure pulses on a “war footing”, create buffer stock of 2 million tonnes, push states to delist pulses from APMC and promote development of GM technologies. It also prescribed subsidies to farmers for growing pulses.

Subsidies:

Efforts to be made to give production subsidies to farmers for growing pulses in irrigated areas of about Rs 10-15 per kg to be given via DBT.

The CEA report pitched for encouraging “development of GM technologies” to boost pulse productivity and production. It also said expeditious approval should be given to indigenously develop new varieties of pulses.

Elimination of export:

Furthermore, it suggested elimination of export ban on pulses and stock limits, and “more generally, the use of trade policy to control domestic prices, which induces policy volatility, should be avoided”.



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